Orchha (or Urchha) is a town in Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh state, India. The town was established by Maharaja Rudra Pratap Singh in 1501, as the seat of an eponymous former princely state of central India, in the Bundelkhand region. Orchha lies on the Betwa River, 80 km from Tikamgarh & 15 km from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh.
Orchha was founded in the 15th century AD, by the Bundela chief, Rudra Pratap Singh, who became the first King of Orchha, (r. 1501-1531) and also built the Fort of Orchha. The Chaturbhuj Temple was built, during the time of Akbar, by the Queen of Orchha Ganeshi Bai, while Raj Mandir was built by ‘Madhukar Shah’ during his reign, 1554 to 1591.
Places of tourist interest
On a seasonal island on the bank of the Betwa River, which has been surrounded by a battlement wall, stands a huge palace-fort. The fort consists of several connected buildings erected at different times, the most noteworthy of which are the Raja Mahal and the Jahangir Mahal.
The Ram Raja Temple is built on a square base and has an almost entirely plain exterior, relieved by projecting windows and a line of delicate domes along the summit. The Jahangir Mahal is built on a rectangular base and is relieved by a circular tower at each corner surmounted by a dome, while two lines of graceful balconies supported on brackets mark the central storeys. The roof is crowned by eight large fluted domes, with smaller domes between them, connected by an ornamental balustrade. The Jahangir Mahal is considered to be a singularly beautiful specimen of Mughal architecture. A point worth mentioning here is that the mother for Jahangir was also a Rajput, Jodha. It is with this in mind that the Rajput king of Orchha had built the Jahangir Mahal. Chaturbhuj Temple is an old temple from the 9th century.
The Uth Khana(Camel Shelter) where the King’s camels were stationed is right next to the fort and is a must see. Tourists can also climb on the roof of the Uth Khana and get a fastastic view of Orchha town. The ruins behind the fort complex is an even greater watch. It makes a tourist travel back in time and is an integral part of a visit to Orchha. It houses the residences various military officers, ministers(housing, roads etc), gunpowder factory etc. Although most are in absolute ruins, a silent walk through the ruins can give goosebumps.
Numerous cenotaphs or chhatris dot the vicinity of the fort and the Betwa river. Elsewhere about the town there is an unusual variety of temples and tombs, including the Chaturbhuj temple, which is built on a vast platform of stone. The more unguarded and neglected of these buildings are popular hangouts for tropical bees, wasps, and other such excitable stingy creatures.
In 2006, Orchha’s buildings were being documented by the LIK Team of IIT Roorkee, India.
A community radio station, Radio Bundelkhand was launched in Orchha on October 23, 2008. The radio station broadcast programs daily in the Bundeli dialect and devotes significant amount of its broadcast time to local issues, culture, education and rich tradition of Bundeli folk music. The station is available on 90.4 MHz.
As of 2001 India census, Orchha had a population of 10000. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Orchha has an average literacy rate of 54%, lower than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 64%, and female literacy is 42%, 18% of the population is under 6 years of age.
Orchha Railway station is Jhansi-Manikpur section of the North Central Railways. 15 km from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, Orchha also lies close to another popular tourist destination, Khajuraho.
Tourists who wish to visit Orchha from Khajuraho can catch the morning express with leaves around 8 or 9. Alternatively, they could also avail the afternoon express which leaves around 12 or 1. The train journey from Khajuraho is 5 hours and they will ideally have to get off at Jhansi and grab an autorickshaw or Tuk Tuk for Orcha(costs nothing more than INR 10-15. However, if the train halts at Orchha, they can also get of at the Orchha station and grab an autorickshaw to the temple complex